Mountain biking has gained acceptance as an accessible sport and is transforming communities across the world. Mountain biking is enjoyed by a wide range of residents and tourists in the Mission area, from families looking for a enjoyable time in nature on a trail away from busy streets, to couples enjoying rides together, young men bonding over trail challenges, and increasingly by mid-life adults, looking for an adventure tourism.
Mountain biking has a minimal environmental impact but far reaching economic potential. Recent research by Linfield College Professor Jeff McNamee found a single event that lasted a mere three days brought more than $1 million into Oakridge, Oregon whose population is just over 3,000, and three short mountain biking events in two Oregon towns drew more than 1,700 visitors from 28 states and five countries. ¹ Locally, 15 bike shops in the Fraser Valley with saw $16 million in sales in 2011, and $635 million attributed to the BC economy through mountain biking directly and indirectly in 2011. ²
“We tend to envision mountain bikers as young punks, but most visitors at these events were older adults with disposable incomes,” McNamee says. Almost three-quarters of the participants had incomes of $100,000 or higher, with 30 percent of all visitors making more than $200,000. “These are the types of tourists communities want to attract,” said McNamee, whose findings also show that mountain bikers spend more than the average tourist and stay significantly longer, an average of four days.
Mountain bikers will travel long distances to ride spectacular trails. Renowned trail systems and stretches of trail taking several hours for the experienced riders to complete become highlights of a trip, and are the main attraction to a riding area. They look for communities which welcome them and provide well mapped and documented trails which have various levels of difficulty. While trails attract these adventure tourists, they are looking for bike friendly accommodations and businesses. Hotels which will allow them to secure their $6000 bike in the room, or a guarded area will be popular. As will be restaurants which cater to this same security concern, allowing visibility to bikes from the eating areas.
The FVMBA is a registered non-profit, volunteer run organization whose primary goal is to maintain and develop the network of trails in the Fraser Valley. FVMBA works with land managers to maintain and build trails, supports local trail builders with tools and proper training, and provides a public face for the mountain bike community. FVMBA actively promotes cycling through kids lessons, group rides, building and clean up days.
FVMBA is fundamental in providing trail upgrades (drainage, bridges, reroutes etc), new trails, signage on trails, map / information kiosks, GPSing of all trails, and trail difficulty rating system put in place, and improved parking.
This year FVMBA is offering various ride programs, including: “Two Tired Tots” learn to ride 4-7yr olds, “Trail Riders” 8-12yr olds, and “Mountain Riders”, 13+ adults, as programs through the Mission Leisure Centre, “Self Esteem on 2 Wheels”, a graduated program for elementary school kids gr. 3 through gr. 6 at Hatzic and Windebank. Group rides occur frequently, and introduce new people to the area and sport.
Every year FVMBA hosts the Trailblazer Mountain Bike Race Series, which holds 4 races in the Fraser Valley, 2 of which are in Mission. The races see 100+ participants, including racers from Oregon, Washington and BC. The racing is considered grass roots racing, and includes kids events, and U15 courses.
In addition, FVMBA successfully held its first women only mountain biking event in 2013 which drew over 77 ladies, with 23% coming from out of province, and 66% from outside of the Fraser Valley. FVMBA hopes to continue this event every year.
FVMBA has started a new program this year involves local businesses adopting a trail for a year. The business pays a fee and provides people for 4 – 6 trail days/yr. In turn we provide a professional trail builder/tools. This relationship is a great PR opportunity and a way for business to attract new patrons through their help to the mountain bike community.
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